U.S. Navy sports are an excellent way for sailors to stay in shape, blow off steam, or even prepare for a career in sports, and the service offers plenty of options.
Sailors with the athletic skills to compete at the national level in a team or individual sports have the chance to represent the Navy at higher level athletic competitions through the Navy Sports program.
Navy Sports Competitions
The All-Navy teams participate in the Department of Defense Sports Program and compete in the Armed Forces Sports Championships against teams from the Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force. Following an inter-service competition, the very best Navy athletes may be selected to compete as members of the All-Armed Forces Team and go on to the Military World Games or national and international competitions.
“The Navy Sports program is an opportunity for active-duty Sailors and selected Reservists to participate in a higher level of sports that goes beyond the base intramural program,” explained John Hickok, former head of the Navy Sports program for the Navy’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Division, in a Navy statement.
“Because the All-Navy sports teams advance to a national championship event or world military event, we are looking for Sailors with solid athletic achievements who can compete at the national level," he added. "Typically, this is someone who has been a state champion in high school or has competed in college."
The Navy Sports Program also allows people who participate in activities that are not normally offered on a base, such as rowing, archery, and shooting, to compete at a high level.
“If a Navy athlete is good enough to challenge the very best in the nation, then they can be given the opportunity through the Navy Sports Program to train and compete for a chance to represent the United States in the Olympics,” said Hickok.
Since the 1952 Olympic Games, 107 Navy athletes have represented the United States in the Olympics, winning 22 gold medals, six silver medals, and six bronze medals.
“There’s a great value to the Navy in allowing Sailors to participate in not only the Navy Sports Program, but other MWR opportunities," Hickock said. "It’s another chance for a Sailor to excel. Plus, it’s all about teamwork and being well rounded, and camaraderie—qualities you look for in a warrior."
Navy Sports Community Outreach
Navy sports also provide opportunities for community outreach.
“When we take a Navy team to a training camp, we always make an effort to contact the local recruiters and bring in high school students that compete in a particular sport and hold a clinic for them,” said Hickok. “It gives the students a chance to talk to some outstanding role models in our Navy athletes, who come from various enlisted and officer communities, anything from culinary specialists to pilots and doctors.”
The Navy Sports Program fields All-Navy teams in boxing, bowling, cross country, wrestling, basketball, soccer, triathlon, volleyball, softball, golf, rugby, and marathon.
U.S. Armed Forces teams are also selected to compete in national and international competitions in the following sports: taekwondo, naval pentathlon, shooting, sailing, cycling, track and field, and judo.
Training camps for All-Navy team sports are generally two to three weeks, while camps for individual sports vary. Other sports—such as the marathon, cross-country, and triathlon—don’t have a training camp because there’s an abundance of races in the local community that athletes can compete in year-round.
How to Join Navy Sports
Sailors interested in participating in the Navy Sports Program or serving as coaches are encouraged to contact their base athletic director to obtain a Navy Sports application and fill out the application completely. Sailors will not be selected without the approval of their commanding officer.
“After the application has been approved by the chain of command, the information and references will be checked by the Navy Sports Program staff,” said Hickok. “About two weeks before the training camp starts, we’ll announce who has been selected to attend and will send a letter to the command requesting that the command issue no-cost TAD [temporary assigned duty] orders. Once that’s done, the Navy Sports Office will arrange for transportation and provide the individual with an e-ticket. Sailors will be berthed on base.”
Applications are due no later than 30 days before training camp begins. Applications are due 30 days before the Armed Forces Championship begins for sports without training camps. For the complete sports schedule and more information, including the Navy Sports application, visit the Navy Sports Web site.